Happiness Index: American happiness at all-time low

0
122

NEW YORK, NY – In honor of America’s 240th birthday, TIME Magazine unveiled the latest results of The Harris Poll Happiness Index, which uses a series of questions to calculate Americans’ overall happiness and found that fewer than 1 in 3 Americans (31%) are very happy this year, down from just over 1 in 3 (34%) in 2015.

At the same time, however, about 8 in 10 U.S. adults (81%) say they are generally happy with their life right now, suggesting that people may overstate how happy they really are.


These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,019 U.S. adults aged 18+ surveyed online between May 31 and June 2, 2016. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.
Women continue to be happier than men

Harris Poll has been measuring Americans’ happiness since 2008 using an index that is calculated by taking an average of those who strongly agree with certain positive statements and strongly disagree with certain negative statements that are asked along an agree/disagree scale.

In its inaugural year, the Happiness Index stood at 35 (out of a possible 100). Eight years later, Happiness has gradually slipped to 31, but what hasn’t changed is the gender breakdown – more women are happier than men:

2008 2009 2010 2011 2013 2015 2016
All Adults 35 35 33 33 33 34 31
Gender
Men 33 34 32 31 32 33 29
Women 36 36 35 36 35 36 33

Most Americans still optimistic about the future

When looking closer at the individual statements that comprise the Happiness Index, it would appear that most Americans are quite happy now and feel positively about the future:

• About 8 in 10 (81%) strongly or somewhat agree that they are generally happy with their life at this time; and,

• More than 7 in 10 (72%) agree that they are optimistic about the future.

In both cases, however, a greater proportion of Americans only somewhat (as opposed to strongly) agree, illustrating the rationale behind how the Happiness Index is calculated – and that it represents greater cheerfulness than merely mild contentment.

General happiness has fluctuated between the low 80s (83% high in 2008) and upper 70s (77% low in 2013), while future optimism has ranged between nearly 80% (79% high in 2009) and the upper 60s (67% low in 2013):

% Strongly or Somewhat Agree (NET) 2008 2009 2010 2011 2013 2015 2016
% % % % % % %
I have positive relationships with my family members 92 90 92 91 90 89 88
My relationships with friends bring me happiness 93 91 91 93 90 90 87
At this time I’m generally happy with my life 83 81 80 80 77 82 81
I feel my voice is not heard in national decisions that affect me 73 67 72 74 75 72 73
I’m optimistic about the future* 76 79 73 75 67 75 72
My spiritual beliefs are a positive guiding force to me 77 74 73 74 73 71 66
I frequently worry about my financial situation 65 67 66 68 65 67 62
I rarely worry about my health 49 54 52 50 52 51 48
I won’t get much benefit from the things that I do anytime soon* 32 38 36 38 42 36 41
My work is frustrating 37 36 38 39 34 33 34
I rarely engage in hobbies and pastimes I enjoy 32 33 34 33 36 31 33



*This statement is not included in the calculation of the Happiness Index.